$70M eCom Brand Breakdown: Vivobarefoot

Behind the scenes of a disruptive $70 Million D2C ecom brand.

Introducing the Brand Breakdown series

New type of content for Brandkenstein subscribers: Brand Breakdowns!

I’ll go behind the scenes of a winning D2C, B2C, or ecom brand to dig out the playbook on what makes it tick. 

Then, I’ll translate that into actionable insights for you to blaze your own growth trail. 

So lace up. The lineup is hot. The insights are fresh. 

It's time to break...things...down.

Vivobarefoot: the barefoot “black sheep” shoe brand

Vivobarefoot is the rebel child of the entire shoe industry. 

Not the type of rebel like your school dropout cousin…

Who said he’d be a “famous rapper”, only to publish two SoundCloud songs & then sell you on his latest MLM product. 

I’m talking about a rebel brand that went against the odds and won. 

Vivobarefoot focuses on forging healthy feet using barefoot shoes.

It encourages people to reconnect with nature “one stride at a time”. 

Their shoes ditch the typical bells and whistles of modern shoes (referred to as “foot prisons”). 

Instead, Vivobarefoot opts for thin, flexible soles that let your toes spread and grip the earth.

This philosophy puts Vivobarefoot at odds with the bigger athletic brands—like Nike, Adidas, UnderArmour, etc., who push maximum support and motion control. 

But for the growing tribe hungry to feel the ground beneath them, Vivobarefoot offers a fresh minimalistic alternative.

Despite struggling to gain early buy-in for barefoot shoes in 2012, the brand is making significant strides!  

👉 £70+ million in revenue recorded in 2023

👉 49% year-on-year revenue growth from 2022-2023

👉 Hella sustainable! Vivobarefoot has a reputation for recycling and sustainability, with a dedicated platform & system called “ReVivo” that offers discounts for recycling shoes. 

(Disclaimer: I love barefoot shoes. My whole family owns a pair of Vivos!)

Brand Origin & Founding Story

The brand was founded in 2003 by two seventh-generation shoe-making cousins—Galahad and Asher Clark (who are members of the Clark shoe family). 

Founders Galahd & Asher

Galahad says that his own “deformed toes and pretty crappy feet” inspired the idea. 

Realizing that conventional shoes oppressed modern feet, he turned his back on traditional footwear.

Setting out to create shoes that allow feet to move naturally. 

Despite being backed by the Clark shoe dynasty, the early days were an uphill battle. 

Getting minimalist footwear accepted as “legit” took years of research and prototypes. 

This is where the breakdown of the Vivobarefoot brand strategy, messaging, and content gets interesting! 

Target Audience

Vivobarefoot taps into a core audience of "barefooters":

Those who prefer going au naturel with their feet—or as close as possible. This includes:

  • Outdoor enthusiasts and hikers

  • Runners looking for low/zero-drop shoes

  • Yogis and fitness buffs who want barefoot freedom

Their messaging is built for health-conscious consumers.

Focusing on sustainable living and natural movement.

Strategy, Positioning, Core Values

At its core, the brand is about reconnecting modern humans with our ancient, natural movement. 

Their unique selling prop? 

Being the OG pioneers of this minimalist shoe revolution. As they put it: 

"We make shoes as nature intended with a patented, ultra-thin, puncture-resistant sole." 

This positions Vivobarefoot as the performance-oriented barefoot shoe brand for athletes & adventurers alike. 

Brand pillars & values:

🧪 The “Re-wilding” movement: ditching the foot prisons, rebelling against restrictive footwear, and moving freely. Like our ancestors.

🧪 Highlighting foot health: championing the barefoot lifestyle through community & science. 

🧪 Sustainability: Recycled materials, fair trade practices, and an entire business function dedicated to recycling. The whole eco-friendly shebang is a very real thing, not just a brand play.

🥊Brand differentiation 

In comparison, competitors like Xero Shoes focus more on a casual/lifestyle message, with an emphasis on comfort. 

Vibram (which I also have a pair of) swings to the other extreme with glove-like shoes designed to separate toes. 

They’re mainly for the hardcore outdoor barefoot enthusiast/psychopath who doesn’t mind wearing foot gloves in public and being asked: 

“WHAT ARE THOSE?”

Visual identity: Rugged, Raw, Rooted

Vivobarefoot's brand aesthetic fits with their "re-wilding" ethos: rugged yet modern. 

Raw, but refined.

The branding has an earthy, organic feel that celebrates humanity's primal connection to nature. 

You’ll notice muddy brown & earthy green colors plucked straight from the forest floor. 

Product photography uses the typical ecommerce clinical white-boxed style. 

However, there’s also a healthy dose of raw textured landscapes—with natural elements like rocks and foliage to reinforce the “re-wilding” tone.

Educational video content like the viral "Shoespiracy" documentary has a grainy, cinematic quality with washed-out colors.

This echoes the brand's no B.S. rugged, honest approach.

Growth Strategy highlights

💡 The extreme 100-day free trial 

One of Vivobarefoot's most differentiating and bold growth marketing plays is the 100-day free trial period on all shoe purchases. 

Customers can wear the minimalist shoes for over 3 months and return them. No questions asked if they're unsatisfied.

This extremely generous policy is unique in the footwear industry where 30-day return windows are the norm. 

  1. It removes risk and skepticism for newcomers to the barefoot shoe concept.

    Transitioning to minimalist footwear can take time for feet accustomed to lots of cushioning and support.

    The trial allows people to truly experience the transition.

  2. It builds trust in the brand's barefoot philosophy and product quality. 

    Vivobarefoot is confident newcomers will become “converts” once they experience the benefits of going barefoot.

  3. It drives initial sales from curious customers who would otherwise hesitate to try an unconventional product with a bold claim.

💡Influencer marketing with athletes

Influencer marketing supports the brand’s message of using barefoot shoes to regenerate foot health & boost athleticism.

John John Florence: a living legend amongst surfers

You’ll notice active collabs with the likes of John John Florence, one of the “greats” in the surfing community. Who’s known for his natural lifestyle and environmental advocacy. 

And even Ross Edgely, the first person in history to swim all the way around Great Britain. 

Interested in using the same custom sheet I’ve built for tracking influencer marketing? I’ve made a template for you here🙂.

🔎 Content Marketing & SEO Strategy

  • 53,000+ global keywords in total

  • Strong backlink profile with coverage from popular news, running, and fashion websites. 

Overall strategy💡: focuses on capturing the attention of problem-aware traffic > and converting them into product-aware, barefoot enthusiasts.

This combines optimizing for long-tail & product-led keywords, and media-driven content efforts such as documentaries and educational content. 

The vivobarefoot.com domain dominates product-led, commercial keyword clusters like:

🔎 “barefoot shoes”

🔎 “soleless shoes” 

🔎“barefoot hiking shoes”  

There’s a clear focus on long-tail focus on topics & questions related to foot health and adapting to barefoot shoes. 

🔎 107% YoY growth

With 3,000+ keywords on page 1, Vivobarefoot is “10 ten toes down” on content marketing & SEO.

There’s a 107% YoY increase in page 1 keywords from May 2023—May 2024. 

It’s difficult to attribute this lift to a single initiative or campaign. 

And I’m not going to act like I know the answers & variables that went into this.

(You’re a big boy/girl & can draw your own conclusions.)

But here’s Brandkenstein’s take🧪:

I think the new/revamped product pages for kids' barefoot shoes are a key contributor to the recent YoY traffic growth based on two metrics (Ahrefs).

Here’s why: 

  1. Crawled pages have increased steadily from 2023-2024.

    This aligns with the spike in keywords ranking on page 1 & total keywords owned by the domain. 

(Caveat: An increase in crawled pages could also indicate an improvement to the site’s indexability/technical SEO, or loads of new unique content.)

  1. Top non-branded keywords growth over the last 6 months:

    Traffic from non-branded keywords has spiked for phrases like “barefoot shoes for kids”, with the product page racking up hella rankings & positions. 

And the team has done a cracking job of diversifying content across different formats. 

From documentary-style videos to commissioned research and an interactive Foot Assessment tool. 

Content highlights include: 

🔎Linkable assets & original research

Vivobarefoot makes a pretty bold claim: 

We’re all potentially damaging our feet because normal shoes don’t allow natural movement. 

Luckily, they back it up with research and content that overcomes objections. 

For example, they partnered with Biomechanics researchers to study how indigenous & modern footwear impact foot health. 

The final study showed that 6 months of wearing barefoot shoes improved foot strength by 60%.

(Obviously sponsored research, but it’s still real data from actual researchers). 

The “Shoespiracy” documentary 

My favorite content from the brand is the viral, expose-style “Shoespiracy” video they published which sits at 2 million+ views. 

The 1-minute explainer video (beautifully edited) pits minimalist footwear against “maximalist” footwear.

It’s a good funnel into the full-length Shoespiracy documentary— in which biomechanics experts share the science behind natural movement. 

🧠 Lessons learned

Go all-in on your brand philosophy 

Vivobarefoot's success stems from their commitment to the "re-wilding" movement. 

They embody barefoot living. And let that authentic lifestyle dictate everything—from product to marketing and even experimental initiatives. The lesson? 

Don't just pay lip service to your brand ethos. Walk the talk. 

Bold offers can overcome big objections 

The 100-day free trial is a genius example of using a radically generous offer to eliminate risk and remove barriers, especially for novel products. 

It showed supreme confidence in their value prop. 

What's your brand's "aha sample" that could convert skeptics?

Educate with content to build a movement 

Vivobarefoot used content as a core strategy to raise awareness, dispel myths, and build a loyal "barefoot" following. 

Their comprehensive guides, research, and multimedia assets positioned them as the authority. 

For niche/disruptive brands, thoughtful education is key. 

And Vivobarefoot puts on a masterclass via the “Shoespiracy message”—it distributes a single, compelling narrative through different media channels & content types. 

And that’s a wrap!

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